British press face restrictions, surveillance

British Prime Minister David Cameron pledges to ban secure messaging platforms in a move that creates risk for journalists relying on encryption for protection. The pledge comes as authorities impose a series of restrictions on the British media. Powerful laws including the Terrorism Act and Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act are used to get around journalistic protections, and revelations published in January detail the interception by British intelligence agency GCHQ of messages between reporters and editors at news outlets in the U.K. in 2008.

Automatic encryption is safety by default
A Banksy mural on surveillance near GCHQ. (Reuters/Eddie Keogh)

Attacks on the Press   |   Security, UK, Uganda

Double Exposure

When it comes to abusive readers' comments and tweets from Internet trolls, Katherine O'Donnell has heard it all. For years, O'Donnell, who is night editor of the Scottish edition of the U.K.'s The Times, has borne the brunt of personal attacks, including about her gender, from online trolls who take umbrage at articles in her newspaper.

Attacks on the Press   |   Internet, Security, UK, USA

Why a Troll Trolls

"Yeah... I went too far," he said, which by most accounts would be an understatement.

Among the Twitter comments this Internet troll posted to or about a female writer and activist were:

"Rape her nice ass."

"I will find you."

"The police will do nothing."

The man, who agreed to be interviewed only under a pseudonym--we'll call him Jim--said he did not start off with the intention of menacing anyone. Yet it is hard to imagine a public milieu where an individual might consider casually uttering such words--to a stranger no less.

Blog   |   Belgium, France, Germany, Internet, Luxembourg, Spain, UK

EU rulings on whistleblowers and right-to-be-forgotten laws puts press freedom at risk

The EU flag hangs in the European Parliament in Strasbourg. A series of votes on legislation could impact journalists in member states. (AFP/Patrick Hertzog)

European journalists were reminded today that their freedom to report is not only determined by national laws, but increasingly by European institutions. Today, after years of political battle, the European Parliament adopted the Passenger Name Record directive, the Data Protection Package, and the Trade Secrets Protection Act. The stakes were immense and the debates long and heated, leading to dissent and divisions within many political groups-and campaigns about the potential impact from journalists.

Alerts   |   Indonesia, UK

Two British journalists convicted in Indonesia over visa violations

Neil Bonner and Rebecca Prosser, center, in court in Indonesia in October. The British filmmakers were sentenced for visa violations on November 3. (Reuters/Beawiharta)

New York, November 3, 2015--The Committee to Protect Journalists is concerned by the conviction of British filmmakers Neil Bonner and Rebecca Prosser who, according to reports, were sentenced to two and a half month in prison in Indonesia today. The conviction represents a failure of the government to reverse its long-standing anti-media policies.

Blog   |   UK

As police seize Newsnight laptop, concerns grow at reach of UK counter-terrorism measures

For journalists investigating jihadist networks, the UK is proving to be no safe haven. British police used special powers under the Terrorism Act 2000 in August to seize the laptop of Secunder Kermani, a reporter for BBC Two's flagship news show "Newsnight," according to reports. "They required the BBC to hand over communication between the BBC journalist and a man in Syria who publicly identified himself as an [Islamic State] member," BBC spokeswoman said today.

Alerts   |   Indonesia, UK

Two British filmmakers on trial in Indonesia over visa regulations

Neil Bonner and Rebecca Prosser are escorted into court in Indonesia on October 22. The British filmmakers are on trial for working without a journalist visa. (AFP/Iklil Faiz)

New York, October 22, 2015--The Committee to Protect Journalists is concerned by the continued detention and trial of two British filmmakers who have been held in Indonesia since May 28. They are being held with the general prison population in a provincial jail in Batam, according to family members.

Reports   |   Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Spain, Sweden, UK

Balancing Act

Press freedom at risk as EU struggles to match action with values

The European Union strives to be a global leader in press freedom but faces challenges from member states that have criminal defamation and blasphemy laws, and have introduced counterterrorism measures, including mass surveillance. The EU has made press freedom imperative in negotiating with candidate countries, but has been accused of failing to take strong action when member states renege on their press freedom commitments. Journalists working in the region are also affected by EU laws and policies, such as the trade secrets directive and access to information regulations. A special report by the Committee to Protect Journalists

September 29, 2015 4:00 AM ET

Reports   |   Azerbaijan, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Spain, Sweden, Turkey, UK

Balancing Act


The European Union describes itself as a model for press freedom and an exemplary global power. Although many of its 28 member states feature at the top of international press freedom rankings, there are significant challenges that undermine press freedom and new threats are emerging.

Attacks on the Press   |   UK

Overzealous British media prompt overzealous backlash

A protester in London, dressed as a caricature of News Corp. Chairman Rupert Murdoch, burns a government report on media abuses while another wearing a mask depicting Prime Minister David Cameron sits tied to a chair, November 29, 2012. (AP/Sang Tan)

In 2010, Andrew Norfolk was driving to an appointment when he heard a radio news report about a gang of men who had been convicted of the systematic sexual abuse of a teenager.

Attacks on the Press   |   Canada, UK, USA

Surveillance forces journalists to think and act like spies

Graffiti attributed to the street artist Banksy is seen near the offices of Britain's eavesdropping agency, Government Communications Headquarters, or GCHQ, in Cheltenham, England, on April 16, 2014. (Reuters/Eddie Keogh)

Once upon a time, a journalist never gave up a confidential source. When someone comes forward, anonymously, to inform the public, it's better to risk time incarcerated than give them up. This ethical responsibility was also a practical and professional necessity. If you promise anonymity, you're obliged to deliver. If you can't keep your word, who will trust you in the future? Sources go elsewhere and stories pass you by.

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